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09 July 2015


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Colonel Lang -

I am not a fan of General Petraeus. I agree with both you and Bernard Fall about the failure of COIN, except in very limited cases – i.e. the Huk Rebellion, and perhaps even earlier the Philippine-American War at the end of the 19th century, and as you mentioned Cyprus.



this is an interesting potted look at the history of COIN using BBC archives on Algeria, Vietnam and Iraq. I found the footage fascinating.

What is hinted at but never examined by the author is the issue of time. The foreign occupier does not have time on their side.


Patrick Bahzad

Who in France calls them Freedom Fighters ? Probably you and your leftists "Front de gauche" buddies !
I don't mind you having a personal opinion, but don't pretend you speak in the name of a whole country. Who TF you think you are ?
Word on the street in France is certainly not "freedom fighters", that's your horse manure ideology speaking.

Jonathan House

Below is a very short excerpt from Pope Francis' speech on July 9th which I think is not off topic but no doubt rather more abstract and general than most of the comments on this thread. I expect that many on this list will agree with the view it expresses.
The whole speech is striking in many ways. I am not a Catholic - indeed not affiliated with any religion - but I have been circulating this speech to friends and I am proud to associate myself with its author if only in the small way of passing on what he writes.
Here's the excerpt - the first paragraph of the second section of the third part. The whole speech can be found at
The world’s peoples want to be artisans of their own destiny. They want to advance peacefully towards justice. They do not want forms of tutelage or interference by which those with greater power subordinate those with less. They want their culture, their language, their social processes and their religious traditions to be respected. No actual or established power has the right to deprive peoples of the full exercise of their sovereignty. Whenever they do so, we see the rise of new forms of colonialism which seriously prejudice the possibility of peace and justice. For “peace is founded not only on respect for human rights but also on respect for the rights of peoples, in particular the right to independence”.[3]

Patrick Bahzad

How one can see the UK as winner in an "emergency" that saw them loose a whole Crown Colony is a mystery to me ... But never mind. The Cyprus case is inept as comparison to large scale counter-insurgency situations for one reason already: it was a very small theatre of engagement, which did not have the same effects on the British ability in terms of draining resources and manpower.
As for winner/looser, Cyprus is British no more, makes for a pretty clear win/loss picture to me. Based on your rationale, you might as well say the UK was winner in the Irish War of 1920 ! Takes some real jingoistic nonsense attitude to make such BS statements.

Patrick Bahzad

I thought they would have been translated in English ... bizarre, but then also explains the insistence on Fall, who got published in the US while the others apparently not even got translated.
You're right about Trinquier in the sense that his involvement in military combat action in WW2 was very limited.

Regarding English versions: there's Trinquier's "Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency" ... Seems that's about it indeed. What a shame. Maybe you can find papers analysing their theories.

Patrick Bahzad

In addition to Martin's link and embedded video, another very interesting documentary on youtube: "Death Squads - The French School" from Vietnam to South America ... It's in French, but interesting also if you just want to have a look at what the French COINISTAS looked like and what their actions were:


Patrick Bahzad

The Phoenix program was based on Trinquier's theories as expressed in "La guerre moderne" ... it's basically a "copy & paste" of the French counter-revolutionary theory applied in Algeria.


Not to mention that it was an island.


Two simple questions:

1. Where exactly in the world are we likely to find a situation in which the US national interest is great enough, and local insurgent circumstances directed at the established government threatening enough, for us to even consider engaging in a major counter-insurgency campaign?

2. Where did such circumstances exist post-Vietnam until today? Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Honduras, Congo. Mali, Bosnia, Ukraine, the halls of the Pentagon? (Vietnam exempted only so as to avoid getting bogged down in an intellectual quagmire).

Johnny Reims

Col. Hackworth was a devotee of Trinquier in VN. If memory serves me, he wrote about T in the book, "About Face".


I put forth in El Salvador, where it was done by their army, with US adviser input, weapons only. El Sal, being a violent country, sported an army that was both cruel and competent enough to expunge the insurgents. This information, point of view was given to me by two people who were such advisers.

They would come to a village in insurgent controlled territory and tell the people that if they had to come back because the locals still supported the rebels, they would kill everyone in that locale.

This information is second hand, as is addressed above, so I welcome input from Colonel Lang, if this Information is false, or incomplete.

Patrick Bahzad

Wasnt aware he had ! Thx for the info. I'll try and find out what he said about Trinquier. Have to admit though that Trinquier's very direct and confrontational approach towards winning back insurgent controlled territory make him less "usable" in modern day asymmetric campaigns (I'm avoiding the term COIN on purpose, as many people here in France don't believe in it, even though they are flattered Galula was named a "Clausewitz of COIN" by Petreaus, which is BS, despite all the respect I have for Galula academic achievements).

William R. Cumming



Why was it in the US interest to do what it did? Look at the current state of the country - and neighboring Honduras where we backed a coup a few years ago only to see the country descend into violence and chaos?


Yes - with 60,000 dead, the drug cartels going full tilt and el-Chapo buying his way out of jail.

Johnny Reims

Your last comment is why I think you are perfect to write a 2015 version of Street Without Joy based upon your considerable experiences.

A few years ago, I read Petreaus' work. At the time, I thought it was written as if he were an associate in a Wall Street law firm and was trying to make partner. It was extremely well-written, but nothing innovative, nothing new.


In addition to being a devotee of Trinqier's book, Hackworth was also an admirer of Fall whom he had actually met and had conversations with regarding Fall's experiences.

During a tour of duty at the Pentagon, Hackworth haunted the library there and read the After-Action-Report of every battle and operation of the French IndoChina War. He claimed that it was obvious from the unsigned library checkout tag at the front of each document that no-one else in the Pentagon had attempted to read them. They had mouldered away in the stacks for years.


Mr Brenner, as to your question:

1- They were enforcing the Monroe Doctrine (against Marxist enemies)
2- In those days the NCAs were matching The Soviets' SOBs for our Own.
3- The killing of Nuns, (some American), Cardinals, American USAID/or NGO types by their forces was of no concern to the US government This however, would be useful to the El Salvadoran government in order to encourage outrage in the American populace, should they believe the Commie insurgents could be blamed for these crimes.
4- The US NCA could not anticipate the violence created by hopeless conditions in the country, far into the future, nor would they care.
5- El Salvador was already a violent place since they had a war with one of their neighbors over a soccer game. Honduras has recently surpassed them, and US advisers are in place nowadays. Perhaps to turn their armed forces into a success story that is the present Iraqi army, many billions of dollars later.
6- Add all of the above, in my 'Umble opinion, that there is no price to pay for US leaders for failure. Furthermore Us Interests and the spreading of goodness and justice, and improvement of life of the peasantry, can be addressed by propaganda, which in a way is superfluous, since no one gives a damn.

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